ATI TV Wonder Elite

Review

posted 3/31/2005 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
So now that we have a full retail card in our labs after the announcement a few months ago. From what we have here, it looks exactly like what was presented in the picture a few months ago. The PCB is actually a purple-ish color now that we can see the product in person. Included in the package are the card, a new Remote Wonder Plus, a radio antenna, and Cyberlink’s Power Cinema ATI Edition. If you plan on connecting a video source with S-video or composite connections, there's the breakout box that is in many of ATI's All-in-Wonder products.

For the past few years, I’ve said on my reviews of All-in-Wonder cards how ATI’s Multimedia Center needed a facelift and some better integration with a guide program. Well, ATI decided against support for this card in MMC and instead went with a third party program in Cyberlink’s Power Cinema. The guide issue hasn’t been resolved because, well, there is no guide currently with the ATI Edition. Fear not as ATI has stated that there will be a free upgrade for the program to include guide information. It will be annoying if you use this card with the included software but for those buying the card for use in XP Media Center, BeyondTV, SageTV, or some other third party program this won’t be an issue.

There were two programs I had on hand that I really want to test this card with. One was Snapstream’s BeyondTV and the other is Microsoft’s Windows XP Media Center Edition. As you read earlier, this one of the first cards to get the ISF RL certification making the card ideal for Media Center Edition. First up though was getting it to work with BeyondTV.

My test setup consisted of:

AMD64 3800+
MSI RS480M2-IL motherboard
Sapphire X800XL
Maxtor 160GIG 7200RPM HD
2 – 256MB OCZ PC3200 RAM

I also had the test setup output to the TV via S-Video and Component cables.

Right off the bat, BeyondTV detected the card after all driver and program installations. The program was displaying picture and sound in the preview of the setup screen after working through the program wizard. I had problems with my Hauppauge PVR-250 at this stage even though it worked but the TV Wonder Elite didn’t error out like the PVR-250. So after setting up the recording settings of BeyondTV to Best and downloading the guide, I began watching the Ohio State University upset of undefeated Illinois in NCAA men’s basketball. Picture quality is on par with the Hauppauge card albeit a little softer on the monitor. The card did a great job at keeping up with the action and I didn’t notice any pausing or skipped frames. Transitions and quick motions were smooth. Picture quality was top notch and watching it on my CRT TV with component inputs produced a great picture. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised as I expected the card to do well and it didn’t disappoint.
Page 2 of 3